The Eastern Cape education department is racing against time to recover matric examination marking time that was lost due to marker protests at three centres over the past four days.
Despite this, the education department said all 24 marking centres would complete marking before the 21 January deadline.
The latest of the protests was on Saturday, when 151 examination markers at Stutterheim High School downed tools after one marker tested positive for Covid-19.
The protests were sparked by the education department’s alleged refusal to remove markers who tested positive, a reliable source told News24.
The education department had to send almost 300 markers home so far, after they contracted the coronavirus, the department said on Monday.
The markers have since been removed from the marking centres, National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa CEO Loyiso Mbinda said.
On Monday, Eastern Cape education department MEC Fundile Gade’s spokesperson, Vuyiseka Mboxela, said normality had resumed at the centres after the incidents.
Mboxela said the department did not anticipate any further interruptions and said all centres would meet their targets in record time.
“Marking is moving swiftly and we are determined that we will finish at the right time which is 21 January 2021.
“Even though we have had few incidents in three marking centres in Humansdorp, Stutterheim and OR Tambo, the credibility of marking and security of papers was not affected in any centre.
“Out of 24 centres, only three have had those incidents which were resolved instantly.
“We pride ourselves to have been well prepared for this period as we remain the only province that conducted screening and testing for Covid-19, which resulted in less than 300 people (including general staff) having to be sent home due to them having tested positive for Covid-19,” said Mboxela.
The Eastern Cape education department hired 5 323 markers to mark 131 000 scripts.
Nationwide, 45 000 matric exam markers are marking 14 million scripts at 181 marking centres.
Marking is expected to end on 22 January, and matric results will be released on 23 February.
Naptosa called for calm at all marking centres and urged the education department to follow strict guidelines from the health department.
“As Naptosa, we welcome the fact that this matter has been resolved. What we are saying is that all must be done in line with the Covid-19 health protocols and in a case where the protocols are not clear, the health department must be consulted for advice because the pandemic is a health-related matter and as teachers, we are not experts in this field,” said Mbinda.
Mboxela said protests at the Humansdorp and OR Tambo marking centres took place on Thursday.